2020 Environmental Real Estate Issues

On April 22, 2022, the US Department of Justice (DOJ) released its “Accomplishments Report for Fiscal Year (FY) 2021.” An accompanying DOJ news release quoted Assistant Attorney General Todd Kim of DOJ’s Environment and Natural Resources Division (ENRD), who said, “ENRD has an incredibly important mission to protect public health and welfare by enforcing the nation’s environmental laws, safeguarding our breathtaking landscapes and precious natural resources, preserving the rights and resources of American Indian and Alaska Native nations, defending federal agency actions and enabling critical infrastructure projects, among other things.”

FY 2021 Highlights
In FY 2021, ENRD “worked on over 4,000 matters.” It obtained “over $1.5 billion in civil and criminal fines, penalties and costs recovered.” DOJ estimates the value of injunctive relief recovered “at over $5.1 billion” and that its defensive and condemnation work “saved the United States more than $443 million.”

ENRD claims it obtained “a favorable outcome” in 99.4% of its civil enforcement cases, 99.2% in its civil defense cases, 98.9% in its criminal cases, and 100% of its condemnation cases. The news release does not define “favorable outcome,” nor explain how the federal government could get anything except a “favorable outcome” in a condemnation case.

More Data in the Report
The Report contains individual case summaries and additional data, including that ENRD recovered $174 million “in cost recovery of U.S. expenditures on environmental cleanups” and $80 million “in recoveries for damages to natural resources.”

To see the news release, which includes a link to the Report https://www.justice.gov/opa/pr/justice-departments-environment-and-natural-resources-division-releases-accomplishments